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Arkansas restaurants see greater food costs, leading to higher prices for consumers

Since the pandemic started, food costs have gone up: some as much as double digits.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — You might have noticed your grocery bills getting more expensive lately. The same price hikes that affect you are also impacting restaurants.

Since the pandemic started, food costs have gone up: some as much as double digits.

"We're faced with not only higher food costs. We're faced with higher labor costs because we have to pay more to get and keep good people," said Mark Abernathy, owner of Loca Luna and Red Door.

Inflation nationwide is affecting our Arkansas restaurants. Abernathy has seen the price of everyday baking items go up dramatically since the pandemic started.

"Cooking oil is up 90%. Meats are up 20-25%. Some specialty meat items are up 30-40%," said Abernathy.

And when costs go up: it falls directly on you, the consumer, which is why Mark has had to raise his prices for customers.

The inflation isn't just hitting restaurants, several business sectors are feeling it.

Scott Hardin with the Arkansas Department of Finance said there's several reasons for the inflation: one being labor shortage.

"All of us have seen these ads all across the state: 'We're hiring drivers right now.' 'We apologize for any slowness of the product today.' 'We're short workers.' 'We're hiring. Please apply today,'" said Hardin.

That labor shortage has directly affected the supply chain.

"You look at things like a beverage company. Well, they've got plenty of the beverage itself, but they can't find enough of the bottle that it goes in - the packaging," said Hardin.

Is there any relief in sight? Scott said there's a couple things that need to change before it gets better.

He said the economy needs to change as employees become more available for work. That should help the supply chain bounce back.